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Old 04-12-2003, 12:09 AM   #1
Clay Davenport
Man recovering after snakebite at Florida Wal-Mart

LIVE OAK, Fla. --

David Parkin was checking out a plant he wanted to buy at a Wal-Mart when he felt a searing pain shoot through his arm. When he dropped the plant, a water moccasin remained attached to his thumb, shooting its poisonous venom into his body. "It felt like somebody took liquid fire and put it in my veins," said Parkin, 37, of Jacksonville, Fla.

Two weeks and a skin graft later, Parkin returned home Wednesday after being released from a hospital in Gainesville, Fla.

He said he feels lucky to be alive.

Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams acknowledged the incident and said the retailer is investigating. "Snakes are kind of an act of God," he said.

Parkin, a meat salesman for South Coast Distributors, stopped by the lawn and garden section March 23 to buy a flowering plant for a customer. He picked up an 18-inch plant to smell it when he felt an excruciating pain in his hand.

"It started burning the second he got my thumb," Parkin said. "It was like nothing I ever felt before. I'm loaded with tattoos, so I can handle pain."

Parkin shook the snake loose and a friend stomped it to death. Doctors had to cut open Parkin's hand and forearm, all the way to his elbow to relieve the swelling. They then grafted skin from his thigh to seal up the wounds. He may never regain use of his thumb, Parkin's lawyer said.

Parkin hasn't sued the retailer, but he did say he believes Wal-Mart was negligent because its corporate offices provide snake repellent to stores to prevent such incidents and it wasn't used.

Savannah Morning News

Man recovering after snakebite at Florida Wal-Mart